Moving On….

Changes are afoot in the Burnett household; we are moving across country to the east of Scotland. A new house, a new town, a new area to explore, new friends to make…

All very exciting but breaking up a home where we’ve lived for nearly thirty years is hard work, both physical and emotional.

My office where I work, has had a good clear out of thirty years of writing.P Pat I’ll keep all my published work which at the moment fills almost an entire bookcase, what with the 250 Postman Pat comic scripts and annuals I wrote, the hundred or so BBC radio and TV programmes I scripted,  the numerous articles on all sorts of subjects I wrote for magazines and online sites, and the magazine short stories published here and abroad. And then there were the many writing workshops I ran and the materials I prepared for them.buckettrippertapes

But as well as the ‘successful’ pieces, there were very many more rejected manuscripts – hundreds of them in fact. For every piece I had accepted, there were ten ‘failures’ which I kept, just in case I could work on them or a market came up which would be suitable or because I didn’t want to throw them out.

Well, I have now. Reading them over, I can see exactly why they were rejected and I tossed them all out –  they weren’t worth saving after all.

I also found my first piece that I entered into a club competition many years ago and received a crit for. The adjudicator had attached a single line of type to my manuscript which said:

Hackneyed. Full of clichés. Subject has been done many times before.

I was devastated when I read that and almost gave up writing there and then. But it taught me a valuable lesson; temper your criticism with kindness and encouragement. Make it like a sandwich with some positive comments at the start, the meat on how the writer can improve it in the middle, and a final positive note of encouragement at the end. When I’ve been an adjudicator, I’ve always tried to do that. The memory of my first crit still rankles!

I’m looking forward to the newness of everything, home, area, friends, and hoping it acts as a stimulus to more writing. But first, there are a few more cupboards to empty. Let’s hope I don’t find any skeletons – or maybe, as a writer, I should look out for them. You never know where they can lead.

Excuses, Excuses….

I know it’s been too long since I wrote a blog piece but I’ve been busy getting ready for going on holiday, being on holiday and recovering from going on holiday. It’s all hard work you understand!

But I’m back and I’ve run out of excuses so I’m about to throw myself back into writing. I missed the first two nights of Ayr Writers’ Club new season (see above for my excuse) and I should be at Michael J Malone’s launch of his latest book, House of Spines, tonight but I’ve run out of steam. (More excuses.) However I’ll catch up with him and his new book later.

I’ve my book of articles on growing up in the West of Scotland after the Second World War to sort out. I’m stuck because there are apparently hidden text boxes in the manuscript and the powers that be at Lulu (the company I use to publish my books) don’t like it. And I don’t know where they are. I left it there when I went away, hoping, ludicrously, that it would have sorted itself out by the time I got back, but of course it hasn’t. So I will have to search all the forums to see if anyone else has had that problem and what they’ve done about it. I also posted a question on Lulu’s help-desk but the reply I got only took me back to the information site I’d already read my way through.

Part of the problem is that I work on Mac Pages and export to Word.

In the meantime, here’s the photo of me I’m going to use on the cover, once I get that far. You’ll see I haven’t changed much over the years. front of book

I bet there’s a few of you out there had a pair of Clark’s sandals like mine. A new pair every year in time for summer. And no comments about the knickers please! Remember everything was hand-made in those days so no doubt they were cut down from my granny’s old ones.

Taxing Reading

It’s that time of year when I have to dig out my bulging file of receipts, invoices and payments for the last 12 months and start getting them into some sort of order prior to filling in my tax return online.

One of my biggest expenses is that for newspapers, magazines and books. We read a lot. A huge lot. So much so, it is not considered a luxury but a necessity. Books, magazines and newspapers are an essential like bread, potatoes and Green and Black’s chocolate (preferably dark). Where would we be if we didn’t have something to read? bookcase

We get the Herald delivered every morning so that I can read it over breakfast. I must have something to read while eating my muesli. The tablet is no use as it ends up all sticky and doesn’t absorb the drips and if it does, it’s in trouble. No, it’s got to be the newspaper. I read it through, timing it so that I reach the last page just as I scrape the final grains from my plate. At elevenses, I turn to the puzzle page and try a variety including the sudoku (hard) and the kakuro. I don’t often solve them but that’s not the point. It’s the doing that counts!

Mondays are different. They’re Wee Stinker days. A fiendish crossword on the back page devised by Myops which requires all hands to the tablet and sites like one look.com for filling in the blanks, Andy’s anagram page for the anagrams, and as a last resort when I’m absolutely stuck, Crossword Help forum‘s Wee Stinker page. Sometimes I manage to finish it but again that’s not the point. It’s my brain gym for the day.

On Saturdays, we buy two (yes two) bulky newspapers which keep us going for the rest of the week. A quick read through at the weekend and then the rest of the week for in-depth reading.

At least we can recycle old newspapers but it’s the books which are breeding fast in the house. As I said, they’re a necessity and like all readers find, it’s very hard to get rid of them. We did try kindles and we still use them for holiday reading. Much easier than trying to pack enough books for the whole time – we are quick readers – but just not the same. I don’t seem to remember having read a book when it’s on a kindle and have found that I’ve gone and bought a paperback copy of one that I already have read. Still, it has meant that there are less books to find storage for as one wardrobe is filling up fast!

And Michael J. Malone, your book’s in the wardrobe as it’s just been read! It will be promoted to a bookshelf once a space becomes available. The NHS may have bed-blocking, we have book-blocking.wardrobe

I don’t understand people who don’t read. Look at what they’re missing! And what do they do with all that spare time?

No, books, magazines and newspapers are a necessity. And a tax allowable expense, fortunately.